Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Time to Comment guys. I really need your help and opinions

While I was on my 1200 mile 1936 EL trip this weekend, my mind started to wonder like it often does, and to no surprise the topic of old motorcycles snuck into my thoughts. There is nothing in the world that I would rather do than work on old bikes, ride old bikes or talk about old bikes. It is pretty obvious that I have tunnel vision in my life, sometimes it is difficult for me to understand why there are not more people in the world that are as crazy about old bikes as I am.

Somewhere in the middle of Ohio I started to think about the general motorcycling public's perception of old bikes. As the one sided conversation evolved in my head I started to wonder what the biggest problems with the public's perception of old bikes are? This is where I need your help, I know quite a few people check this site and I need your input, please comment below and let me know what you think the Antique Motorcycle Hobby's biggest public image problems are.

Do you think that people don't think the bikes are useable? Do you think that they are afraid to work on them? Or maybe it is the fact that people just don't know how to use them. I don't know, I am sure every motorcycle enthusiast has a different reason. Fill me in on what you think. Thanks in advance.


  1. Matt,
    You and I are for sure on the same page. But for the general public I do think it is mainly a lack of knowledge, wrenching skills, and true soul for bikes that keeps the general public out of our Vintage bike addiction. Ya they see them and say wow cool you rode THAT, but most would never be able to work on one or pay as much as we do for the old parts! I rode the 47 knuck to TN this last week with no chase truck or trailer and when ever people stopped over to look at the old bike they couldn't believe I had faith in the old iron to ride it that far. But for us we know that these old bikes may not have been built to set any land speed records but they were built to be durable to ride on them old rough roads. A well maintained old bike to me is far more reliable that any new electronic contraption bike. Our break down we can usually fix them on the side of the ones break down you need to get them to a shop for electronic thanks. Looking forward to seeing you soon and thanks again for the key switch that is just what the knuck needed!

  2. I guess a big thing that I have noticed, is the younger guys who are into this old stuff grew up with bikes and sheds full of parts. Luckily enough I was able to jump into it, because of my father's interest. Most people can't go out and spend $5000 and only end up with a '37 knuck frame and a toolbox. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there who have the old bikes, and their kids aren't interested at all. Maybe it's the younger generation rebeling against their father's interest, and not wanting to follow in his footsteps. For the most part, our generation has a whole different outlook on hobbies and stuff. Computers, internet, Fast and Furious movies, etc. So many other interesting things to do, than sit in a garage and learn about old spring fork bikes. Sure, everyone stares at them in my garage, and loves them, but that's it. Then they go home, go golfing, or play silly games online.

  3. Matt,
    You hit the nail on the head with a couple of your own comments. Most people do not think that the old bikes are usable, they think of them as oddities "marking their spot", they are conditioned to equating the leaking of some amount of oil as some drastic mechanical problem just waiting to waylay them. They consider all old bikes to be accidents waiting to happen. Most riders nowadays, even quite skilled ones, have not the remotest idea on how to maintain their late model much less one of these antiques.
    I'd say that thru the late seventies most riders (though not all), even those riding then-new rigs, had at least the basic skills to maintain their own bike. And most were not intimidated with the thought of an unexpected mechanical issue bringing them to a halt alongside the road.
    The change came about when the boomers (and I am one so I can talk) and the Evolution motors discovered each other - the Evos had a profound influence on prospective owner attitudes. As a result of this basically issue-free motor, belt drives and the other improvements the novices were no longer intimidated. So, more and more mechanically inept riders entered the sport. And with the money being thrown at the bikes in the form of chrome and doo-dads, the focus of what determines the "ideal" motorcycle became a chromed-out, hopped-up bike with the owners totally incapable of even checking their own tire pressure. As an example, I was at a friend's shop when a customer came in to buy two custom mirrors and could not figure how to install them, did not even know the "Righty-Tighty, Lefty-Loosey" drill! Bigger motors, wider tires, more outlandish frames! More, more, more!!!
    Lastly, for most of those who are now interested, most American antiques (except Sportsters) are financially out of their reach. In effect, our bikes and us as owners have become strangers in this strange land.
    Keep up the blog, enjoy it very much.
    Lonnie C.

  4. Matt,
    First off, I really enjoy your blog-I learn quit a bit!
    I think everybody who has commented have made some very good points. So, here is my .02.
    I think that if a mag like Cycle Source did a series of articles on restoration/buyers guide/the AMCA, etc that could introduce the whole old timer scene to a lot of young cats who might only have little or no idea about the old iron. I bet Cycle Source is read by a lot of 'younger' people who are not the 'instant-do rag-biker' types and aren't afraid to wrench or at least try...the last issue did have some cool knucks! Keep rockin'!
    Chris A. "INFIDEL0341"

  5. some people are simply not interested. everybody is into different things.....


  6. I love old bikes, its just that guys in Japan have more money than I do. Just picked up a WL flathead 45 for a good price, and it is my first foray into vintage bikes. Hope it works out...